In 1964, sisters Margaret and Elise Croft donated the Grassmere property to the Children's Museum of Nashville (Adventure Science Center). After the last sister's death in 1985, the Children's Museum began to develop about 40 of the property's 200 acres, which in 1990, became Grassmere Wildlife Park. That same year, Nashville Zoo opened its doors in Joelton, Tennessee. Seven short years later, Grassmere Wildlife Park closed its doors because of low attendance, and Nashville Zoo was given the option by Mayor Phil Bredesen to develop a "new" zoo for Nashville on the Grassmere property.
Although Nashville Zoo was successful in Joelton, seeing approximately 300,000 visitors per year and exhibiting about 300 animals from around the globe, the relocation to Grassmere would provide over 100 acres more exhibit space. The unique opportunity of building a new zoo, which would also be more convenient to the community, was another driving force behind the relocation.
Since the move to Grassmere in 1996, Nashville Zoo has created many new exhibits, hosted exciting community events and designed a variety of children's programs. Our Jungle Gym playground is the largest community-built playground in the United States and includes over 66,000 square feet for sliding, swinging, climbing, crawling and exploring. From African elephants to Bengal tigers and red pandas, Nashville Zoo provides a home to animals found all over the world. These beautiful creatures can be found in equally beautiful habitats like the new Giraffe Savannah, Alligator Cove, Red River Hog Habitat and many more. Other exciting additions include the Wild Animal Carousel and an interactive Lorikeet Landing exhibit where you can enter an aviary and be surrounded by more than 50 Australian parrots. The Grassmere Historic House and Farm still stand, providing a glimpse into farm life during the 1880s.